European aerospace group EADS said March 22 it had deepened its links with Russian counterpart UAC, which is to build parts of the new family of Airbus A350 planes under a deal signed by the companies. State-owned UAC is to manufacture unspecified parts of the main airframe of the A350 XWB, a mid-sized longhaul airliner that is being developed by plane maker Airbus at a cost of 10 billion euros (US$13 billion.)
The deal came after Russian airline Aeroflot pledged on March 22 to order 22 A350s.
In 2005, Airbus and Russia's Irkut Corp signed a letter of intent for Irkut to participate in the development of the A350 on behalf of UAC, which was being set up at the time. Airbus, a unit of the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), said UAC would take a 5% stake in the development of the airframe of the A350.
The deal signed on March 22 will also lead to the creation an EADS-UAC joint venture, based in Dresden, Germany, to convert single-aisled Airbus A320s into cargo versions.
Freighter conversion centers for the A320 family of planes will be set up in Lukhovitsy, near Moscow, and at the German site.
A further agreement "foresees a joint study of the transport aircraft market and possible cooperation between EADS and the Russian industry in this field." And a final settlement opens the way for UAC to buy a shareholding in an Airbus engineering center in Russia. Last year, the Russian state bought a stake of between 5%-7% stake in EADS via state-controlled bank Vneshtorgbank (VTB), sparking fears that the oil-rich country was seeking to exert control over the strategic European company.
The France-based group has said it wants to create risk-sharing partnerships with suppliers to build 50% of the airframe of the A350 and is targeting investment of 1.8 billion euros.
Copyright Agence France-Presse, 2007